Løten, Hedemarken/Hedmark
Norwegian History  by Elroy Christenson
Loten wheat field

"VANG KOMMUNE, A view from Vangsetervegen of Karseth Gård"
Løten Region of Hedemarken, Norway, composite photo montage 1999, by Elroy Christenson (original prints by Heidi Florhaug AUG.1985)

The Norwegians that occupied this part of south-eastern Norway were generally farmers of small plots of vegetables and grains, such as, oats, barley, and rye.  Potatoes became the dominate crop during the mid 1800's. The latitude is about 70 kilometers north of Oslo, which is about the same as Anchorage, Alaska.  It's a rolling landscape with areas of forest somewhat similar to Minnesota where many Scandinavians later settled. Even the name "Loten" is derived from and an Old Norse word Lautin which means "old farm".  The old farm may be the one that is now call Prestgarden or "vicarage" where the first church was built.  Spelling has varied over the years in various documents from 1500  "Leuten", "Leuthen", "Lautin", from 1838 "Løiten" or from 1918 "Løten".  [Wikipedia 2013] Hedemark has an ancient reputation as a major agricultural area of Norway.   The tribe that lived in this region was the Heidnir that was ruled by Halfdan Whiteleg in ancient days, perhaps before 500 ad.  [Jones 81, 25, 84]

This region also has a long history of logging and a cross-road of trade.  Small plots of land were developed as farm plots of from 5 to 15 acres.  They also raised sheep, cattle, chickens, and pigs.  Some nutrition was also derived from fishing from the nearby streams using line as well as nets.  Crops, animals, and humans were all dependent on a short growing season, good weather and good luck.  Farming was a skill that was passed on from generation to generation and the primary activity of most of the Norwegians who came to the United States.  If the farms were successful so were the number of surviving children.  Through to the mid-1800's  much of the population were intinerant farm workers who could own no land and land ownership that did exist usually went to the eldest son.  During the 9c the serfs and younger men, in particular, had to find some other means of prospering and often saw joining raiding parties as an adventure as well as an opportunity to gain wealth, position and land.[Jones 211-212]   In the 19c immigrating was seen as a more appropriate method.

According to most researchers this region of Norway has the highest representation of I1 (Y-DNA)- or Haplogroup I-M253 DNA of all of Europe and is the oldest haplogroup in Europe meaning that it may have been from a people that came into Europe shortly after the last Ice Age from 4,000 to 5,000 years ago, following herds north from the Mediterranean and developed in isolation in Scandinavia, in particular northern Denmark, until trade and plunder spread the DNA throughout western Europe. The areas where the Vikings settled still maintain high ratios of I1 such as Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Yorkshire, Dublin, and Scotland. [Eupedia, Haplogroup I1] This is the haplogroup that Bryan Sykes in the Seven Daughters of Eve, identifies as Ursula from his research of the female mitochondrial DNA.  [Sykes, Daughters]

Since farming and surviving was largely dependent on the climate and where Winter was considered "a time of slumbering death". It was a natural extension to worship animistic gods that may control those elements.  Sites were set up for gatherings around the solstice and other important seasonal time periods. Many of the Scandinavian traditions were well established before Christianity and have become part of the present Christmas celebrations.  The Xmas Tree, Yule log, Nordic Midwinter feast, the Xmas wreath was set afire and rolled down hill to bring the sun, and Old Man Winter (Odin) became the English Father Christmas.  The religion of Odin, god of wisdom, war and poetry, Frigg (his wife) goddess of home, Freyr, god of fertility, Sol, goddess of the sun, Jøro, goddess of the earth and Thor (son of Odin) the god of thunder, and many more were gradually supplanted by Christianity brought in mostly by English captives. Some of these captives may have included monks from the monasteries which they pillaged.  Continuous and regular raiding was carried out from about 800 ad in Scotland, Britain and Ireland. The Danes were known as Ó Dubhghaill, or "descendent of dark or new foreigner" who settled in the Wexford area may actually have been Cimbri or Charudes tribes from the Jutland and Dani from Skandi. The Cimbri defeated the Romans army in several battles about 100 AD while they forayed across Europe sometimes with their Saxon and Teutones neighbors. Women were used as seers and priestess over human sacrifices during the Roman era and often went on raiding expeditions with the men. [Jones 26]

bayon tapestry
A Viking ship participating in the raid on Normandy in 1064-66 in the Battle of Hastings
"Bayeux Tapestry" c1070, photo Wikipedia Commons.

Viking settlements in Britain, Scotland, Ireland and Normandy were regional trade and raiding centers.  York had many Scandinavian and Danish kings from the early 876 to the late 954. Viking Kings ruled Dublin from 852 to 1111. The Danish invaders were known in Ireland as Ó Dubhghaill (dark foreigner). After establishing colonies it eventually changes to become the family names of Doyle and MacDougall.  The "fair foreigner" Fionnghoill of Ireland was used to describe the Vikings or Norwegian invaders perhaps of the Bohulan tribe into Ireland a few hundred years later. Fionnghoill was later associated with the invading Scots who also had a Viking heritage.   Undoubtedly there was much other contact with the British Isles.  The Danes had already made more permanent residences in Ireland by 850.  They were used as mercenary warriors for Irish chiefs.  They in turn had to fight against the other later invader Vikings and became well integrated into Irish social structure. [Jones 26] DNA studies of the British Isles by James Sykes have proved pretty conclusively that the Vikings actually took their women with them as settlers to most of the locations.  Trade and farming seems to have been the main goals of these immigrants while they probably let the stories and labels as marauders persist to strike fear into any potential opposition.  [Sykes]

The Catholic monks gave the northern tribes a new story of creation and different rules of conduct that had to be married to their already well formed beliefs. Christianity became the official religion under King Hakon the Good about 930[DuBois 175]. Some of the indigenous beliefs had cruel consequences.  The Norse meted out punishment based on at least a 12 men jury at a "thing". This did not always, as today, result in justice which, I might add, was not to be out done by Christianity. Scandinavia didn't adopt Christianity easily. Charlemagne battled Godfred to the Elder river in Jutland but was not able to conquer them. His purpose was to convert the heathen north.  The several battles and the death of Charlemagne in 814 created a stalemate between the north and the Franks.  Christianity made more conversions by diplomacy and concessions than by battles. It became the state religion of Norway about 1024. Even still it was not accepted by all the population.  About 1030 the Norwegian chieftain Olaf the Stout Harldsson/Olav Haraldsson, King of Norway, is baptized at Rouen. He battles in England and fights a loosing battle to convert Norway. He eventually is recognized after his death as St Olav, the patron saint of Norway. He is buried in the Nidaros National Cathedral. Paganism, superstition and ignorance were still holding sway over certain populations. Olaf becomes one of the most popular male names in Norway.  

Loten Kirke panorama

Løten Church, Løten Parish, Hamar Domprosti, Hedmark, Norway.
Photo Elroy Christenson 2016

The Løten Church pictured here was built in 1200 and is a registered landmark for architecture in Norway. It was probably built on the site of an earlier pagan stave building.  Very early church buildings were often timbers planted in the ground with a roof attached.   These early stave structures rotted rather easily in the moist climate.  Of the perhaps 1000 stave churches only 28 still exist. Eventually a stone and timber Gothic design created a more permanent structure that could withstand the element by elevating the timber on large stone foundations.  This type of design was spread throughout Norway.  Of the 270 stone churches built only 160 remain today.  [kirkesok.no]

See the Ringebu Stave Kirke

Lutheranism became the official religion about 1530 and took over most of the Catholic churches. During the Reformation the protestants appropriated the former Catholic churches, white washing the interiors to eliminate the frequently decorated walls of distracting or figurative images.  Prayers were to be performed with concentration, obedience and austerity.  Between 1593 and 1692 there were 140 witch trial in Vardø, Finmark.  They convicted 91 which were burned at the stake.  About one third of these were Sami, reindeer herding people, who seemed different from other Norwegians.  [Strochlic] As late as 1621 witchcraft trials were performed in Bergen.  Suspected women were hauled in for causing ship wrecks, plagues, deaths of animals but also for being able to say more than the Lord's Prayer because they were educated.  [Gjerset 175] During the 1600's Løten was considered a center of witchcraft.  There were 15 cases of witchcraft prosecuted here between 1600 and 1625 of witches, demons and Gitola.  In this period of Norway as a whole there were 143 people found guilty of "trolldom" or witch craft that ended with them being burned at the stake.   [Nedrobo]

Norway had, according Hubert H. Lamb's Climate, History and the Modern World,  many years of vastly difficult weather conditions between 1690 and 1710.  The Little Ice Age froze rivers, the Baltic sea, and created glaciers in Norway that forced the abandonment of farms.  These kinds of conditions were repeated again in "1837-38 and was such an extreme winter in Scandinavia that there was ice all the way from Skagen (the north tip of Denmark) to the southernmost point of Norway and round along the southwest coast of Norway as far out to sea as the eye could see.  (In March 1838 the ice on this Atlantic coast was drifting back towards the south again.)"  These cold winters were also accompanied by wet summers.  The wheat crops failed due to the wetness and the potato took the place as the dominate crop. Constant planting and the potato blight (Phytophthora infestans), that was believed to be imported to Europe from America in 1845 probably aboard a returning passenger ship, grows abundantly with a constant 10 C  and 90% humidity.  "We read in a farm diary from as far away as Jaeren in southwest Norway that in 1846 the alternations of rain and sun, always with warmth, ripened the corn quickly and it was safely got in by 29 August, but the 'the potatoes rotted again.'  In Ireland, where the potato was the staple crop on multitudes of small farms, 80 per cent of them under 6 hectares (15 acres) and many only a fifth of that size, the effect was devastating."  [Lamb p. 231- 232] 

During the 1800's potatoes were a dominate crop and became a most important ingredient in Norwegian recipes such as "lefsa", a potato pancake. Some Norwegian lore states that lefsa was a creation of the Vikings. It attributes its discovery to a Viking boatman(c8-10C) that couldn't eat another potato and threw it into the fireplace where it stuck to become the future dish.  Since the potato was not imported from the New World until Christopher Columbus in 1492, the story could not be other than cultural lore. Certainly lefsa as a bread was probably made dominately with wheat and perhaps with variations using turnips, and other starchy root crops. The potato was not affected by the latitude and rough growing conditions of Norway. A side affect of eating potatoes was the diminishing of the incidence of scurvy among seafarers and populations in the Highlands of Scotland and elsewhere. [Carpenter 101] Very much like Ireland, the wide popularity of the potato caused a population explosion and forced a dependence on the continuation of the planting of potatoes. From 1810 to 1847 the population almost doubled. By the mid- 1800's Norway experienced their own "potato famine" caused by successive failures of this most important crop.  The potato blight responsible for the Irish Potato Famine caused in Norway many of the same hardships and forced the breakup of large families and emigration of many to the  United States. [Lamb 225]

In Scotland with a similar latitude and proximity to Norway also had corresponding crops and weather.  Scotland was similarly afflicted.  In 1846 the Highlands potato crops were blighted and the following winter it was particularly cold and snowy.  Between 1846 to 1852 1.7 million people emigrated from Scotland.  The most well known famine from the potato blight was in Ireland where approximately 1,000,000 people died and caused the emigration of 1.7 to 2 million.  [Lamb 231] [Wikipedia.com]        

The Løten/Hedemarken area of southern Norway had other issues.  Land controlled by the church and the royalty created political intrigue and helped cause poverty even with good weather. In the 1600's the King of Norway and Denmark had sold the churches in Løten as a way of financing a war.  The peasants were still expected to pay the tithe to the new owners who had to split with the tithe with the King.  Failure to pay the tithe could risk imprisonment.  This led to a minor rebellion with the leaders of the revolt thrown into prison and some into slavery.  Although agriculturally bountiful, land was still controlled by a feudalistic land based system that limited economic prosperity of the peasants who raised large families. Even the nobility had problems. "Norway had just gone through the Reformation in 1536 and the Norwegian Nobility had been diminished by half the numbers and political power. It was also lacking in education for administrative ability.  To ensure Danish control the King of Denmark sent Danish noblemen to occupy the needed rolls and urged them to marry landless women or women who lack noble birth while assuming control of the estates.  By this technique the Norwegian nobility line of inheritance was broken and bred out of existence." After 1536 only 15 percent of Norwegian land was in noble possession" but marriages to landless women further diminished the previous nobility. [wikipedia.org/wiki/Aristocracy_of_Norway]

See my story of the Arlid Hake family.

By the 1624 the prohibition of importing German beer created an opportunity for local farmers who found they could make a pretty constant living by brewing beer, and later in Løten, distilling from either grains or potatoes an herb and spice laced liquor called "akvavit" for which they became renowned. It has almost become a national drink also known as Aquavit. The Atlungstad Brenneri on the Atlungstad farm became the major manufacturer of Aquavit through to the 1800's.  [wikipedia.com]

Even if they had some rights to land, the youngest sons were cut out any inheritance to land and had to gain other skills for support and the daughters were married off with hope of prosperity. Younger family members were the normal target for immigrant recruiters. One author, Anderson on Norwegian Immigration, 147, summarized by Babcock, "Times were hard money was scarce and its value fluctuating.  The crops were often short, the prices of grain were high, and the demand for the labor of the peasants was weak; the economic conditions of the lower classes, especially in the rural districts - much the greater part of the country - were growing worse rather than better. Even the oldest son, who was heir to his father's homestead, was likely to find himself possessed of a debt-burdened estate and with the necessity of providing for the mother and numerous younger children.  The younger sons, being still worse off, were forced to try their hands at various occupations to earn a bare living." [Babcock 30-31]

Early immigrants such as Gjert G. Hovland, wrote back to Norway in 1835 and their letters were copied and distributed widely during 1830 to 1840. He gave "high praise of American legislation, equality, and liberty, contrasting it with the extortion of the Norwegian official aristocracy." [Babcock 30] Immigrants listened to these ideals of prosperity and agents established head quarters in the major cities of Norway and Sweden to recruit workers for the railroad and other business.  Even the states of Wisconsin and Minnesota had set up permanent and roving agents to promote their particular territory to new immigrants. Cleng Peerson, a Norwegian  adventurer, was first hired by the Quakers of Norway to find places for them to work and find cheap land in New York.  He later expanded his enlistment and destinations to include Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Texas.  Cleng Peerson final resting place is in the last community he established in Cranfills Gap, Texas where he died in 1865. He is buried here in the Norse cemetery.

Babock reported:

munch scream

Although I have had a special affinity for Edvard Munch, I found out that I have a closer connection than I thought.  Edvard's father was a regimental doctor who worked on an emigrant ship to New York about 1860.   He married Laura Cathrine Bjolstad in 1861 and lived in Løten. Of this small community of only 7500 in modern time, Edward Munch was born in Løten in Dec. 1863 on a farm called Engelhaugen (Ostre Englaug gard - EC).  There is a farm named Engelhoug on the 1862 map that is just a kilometer or so from where my grandmother, Olianna Maria was born here in 1858 on the Aadalen/Oudalen farm.  This is only 5 years before Edvard was born in the same town.  Edvard Munch (2 Dec 1863-1944) lived  mostly in Christiana, now Oslo.  There is not room here to give his complete history. There is a farm used as a museum of his early work that has tours - Munch Center at Klevfos in Løten. It is an old paper mill just up the street from the Aadalen/Oudalen farm.  His family moved to Christiana in 1864, as Oslo was known then.  His mother dies in 1868 of tuberculosis when he was only five. He was raised in Oslo and as an adult lived a bohemian life style until his own depressive mind took control with the help of alcoholism and other lifestyle activities. He makes several visits to Løten and considers this a place in which can find peace and friendship. He writes, "My mother came of good strong farming stock, but her natural strength was gradually eaten away by the worm of consumption.  My father, as you already know, came from a literary family: he had the makings of a genius, but he was also tainted with a tendency towards degeneracy. I arrived in the world on the point of death and my parents had to have me christened at home as quickly as possible. At the time my mother was carrying within her the germ of the tuberculosis that six years later was to deprive five children of their mother.  Sickness and insanity and death were the black angels that hovered over my cradle and have since followed me throughout my life. ..... " [Stang 31]  Another interesting fact is that "The Scream" was painted from Ekeberg Hill over-looking Oslo. Ekeberg is an name associated with royalty and thus denotes several geographic locations but comes from the word for a type of Oak tree, somewhate rare in Norway. The Ekeberg Park in Oslo, now preserved for the public, was previously a royal hunting area. It has been opened in Sept. 2013 as a sculpture garden dedicated as "an homage to women" by Christian Ringness with $50m in donations.  Ekeberg Park.

1862 map
This partial map of Løten and Romedal area of Hedmark comes from 1862
several farms on which Even and Marianne lived are marked in red.
[Norgeskart historical map - Amtskart]

loten map
Partial map of Hedmark centered on Løten with farm names. 
Even was born on the Tomteri farm in the upper left corner and named himself after the Røne farm. There may have been as many as three Røne/Rohne/Rønne farms at one time.
The larger size at 300 dpi - 1.7 mg
I don't have any information on where this came from or
when it was created but I believe that it was created about 1900 but certainly after 1862 when the railroad was built.

Farm names and associated families. I have included here as many farm histories as I can find. Most are in Stange parish, some that are in Romedal I have not been able to find a source for histories without going to Salt Lake City.  These are sometimes stand-alone pages other times included in the family information.  I'm trying to link the families together through these farms with some families connected to several farms over several generations.

see the selected list of farm names with links here.
            Stange farms, Hedmark
            Romedal farms
, Hedmark
            Oppland farms

Of many people born here, including my own grandfather Evan Rohne (22 Sep 1848-1901). Unlike many Scandinavians, my own relatives came to Texas with the sanction and approval of the King of Norway and Denmark.  A sizable acreage was offered to emigrating Scandinavians for settlement.  The central Texas area to which they came has low rolling hills covered with small cedar trees and limestone cliffs. It is a much hotter climate here.  My own relatives became successful farmers of primarily wheat, corn and cotton but also raised cattle and sheep.  According to Odd Magnar Syversen in his article in Lautin on a letter from America.  There was a great number of residents from Løten who left the region between 1860 and 1880 until there was a community of 161 persons forming their own colony (Løtensokninger) in Bosque, with the "capital" being in Clifton, Texas [Syversen]  Kleng Peerson is buried at the Norse Church near Cranfills Gap, Texas. 

          Babcock, Charles Kendric. The Scandinavian Element in the United States, University of Illinois Studies in the Social Sciences,
                    Vol. III. No. 3 Sept. 1914, Pub. by the University of Illinois, Urbana, 1914
          Carpenter, Kenneth J. The History of Scurvy and Vitamin C., The Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, UK 1986
         DuBois, Thomas A. Nordic Religions in the Viking Age. University of Penn. Press. Philadelphia. PA 1999
          Ekeberg Park, Oslo, Norway website. http://www.ekebergparken.com/en/
          Eupedia, European Travel and history.  http://www.eupedia.com/europe/Haplogroup_I1_Y-DNA.shtml       
          Gjerset, Knut. History of the Norwegian People, Vol. 2  Macmillian Co., Norway 1915
          Haywood, John. The Penguin Historical Atlas of the Vikings. Penguin Books, Ltd. , 80 Strand , London, England, 1995
          Jones, Gwyn. A History of the Vikings. revise ed. 1907, Oxford University Press. London 1984
          Kirkesok Kirkebkyggdatabasen -  http://www.kirkesok.no
          Lamb, Hubert H. Climate, History and the Modern World.  Routledge, 2nd ed. 1982
          Nedrobo, Yngve. "To the Fire and Fire" - the witches and demons in Løten 1600-1625". Lautin, 1986
          Norgeskart (Norwegian Maps - historical Amtskart of Hedmark, L
øten) http://www.norgeskart.no/adaptive2/default.aspx?gui=1&lang=1
          Stang, Ragna. Edvard Munch, The man and his art. translated by Geoffrey Culverwell.
                    Abbeville Press, Inc. Pub., NY 1977
Stange bygdebok -(farm history of Stange, Hedmark, Norway)   http://www.hedmarkslekt.no/Bokindex/sbindex.htm
          Strochlic, Nina.  Norway's 'We're Sorry' Monument to 91 dead witches. What a World, 5/2/15. Sykes, Bryan. Saxons, Vikings and Celts. W. W. Norton, London/New York 2006
          Sykes, Byan. The Seven Daughters of Eve. W. W. Norton & Co. Inc., 500 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10110
          Syversen, Odd Magnar. 
"Omvendte" Amerikabrev ("Reverse" America Letter.)  Lautin,
                    Historical Society of Løten, Norway. 1979.
(in Norwegian
          Wikipedia Commons. photo of the Bayeux Tapestry
          wikipedia. com - various topics

 History of Scandinavians in Texasthe Rohne family | the Egeberg family| and the Johnson family.
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